Khulna, Jul 31 (UNB) – The country’s fishermen have been overjoyed as they returned to the Bay of Bengal after a 65-day ban to find an abundance of hilsa, their prized catch.
A number of trawlers with hilsa have been anchoring on the Daratana River in front of the KB Bazar in Bagerhat daily since the ban was lifted on July 24. Witnesses said fishermen, traders and warehouse owners were seen passing a busy time there.
One was seen fetching buckets, the other was busy packaging while another was sending them to different parts of the country.
The coveted ‘Maach er Raja’ (The King of Fish), with its silver sheen, has flooded the local markets of the coastal areas of the country including Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat, said locals.
Its price also went down as there is enough supply in the market. Hilsa weighing 450 gm to 500 gm is available at Tk 500-550, one weighing 600 gm to 700 gm would cost Tk 650 -700, while 800 gm to 900 gm is available within Tk 1,000.
Owners of the fish warehouses said the price was nearly double only a week back but since the ban ended it has come down to a rational level.
Fish sellers said the price of hilsa was high coinciding with the ban from May 20 to July 23.
Sales of hilsa has been on the rise in Khulna City Corporation wholesale fish market, Khulna’s largest wholesale market, as well as by street hawkers who sell fish on the city roads and door to door at reasonable prices.
Hilsa weighing a full kilogram is being sold at Tk 1,200, again half the price from just a week back. Comfort and peace returned to the minds of buyers and sellers for its price reduction and availability. Thousands of buyers were seen hovering around the fish markets where most of them were buying their favorite fish, hilsa.
Abu Musa, owner of Madina Fish warehouse, confirmed that a huge number of hilsa has been netted in the week since the ban was lifted. He is selling a 400 gm/500 gm/ 600 gm hilsa at Tk 500 while those weighing a kilogram were available at Tk 800.
Liton, who is working at Bengal Fisheries, said hilsa from the sea is more expensive than hilsa from rivers. Before July 23, five tonnes of hilsa reached the local market everyday but last Friday, July 25, a whopping 60-70 tonnes of hilsa hit the market.
President of Fish Warehouse Association ASM Abed Ali said during the 65-day ban fishermen and their families had to live in inhuman conditions, but now they are happy with lots of hilsa and higher rate of sale.
He also expressed satisfaction over the sizes of the individual hilsa that they’ve caught, adding that if the rain continues they will be able to net even larger hilsa.
Bagerhat District Fisheries Officer Md Khaled Kanak said the fishermen have started to enjoy the positive outcomes of the hilsa ban.
More hilsa will be available in the district next year, he predicted.
As part of its policy to boost fish stocks, particularly to conserve and protect hilsa, the government had imposed a 65-day ban on saltwater fishing.
Last year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) ranked Bangladesh as the fifth biggest aquaculture producer in the world. Aquaculture or aqua farming is defined by FAO as the production of fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and marine plants.
Meanwhile, hilsa production has jumped from 298,000 metric tonnes in the 2008-09 fiscal, to almost 500,000 metric tonnes in 2017-18, according to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.
Narsingdi, July 30 (UNB) - The approach road of a bridge has caved in in Monohardi upazila, just two months after it was inaugurated.
A large portion of the road collapsed on the south side of the bridge over the Arial Kha River that connects Monohardi of the district with Pakundia of Kishoreganj.
Besides, cracks have developed on the Pakundia part of the approach road on the north side.
Although the contractor firm repaired the damaged road with sand bags and bamboo poles, locals fear it might collapse again anytime.
M/S Rezvi Construction of Mymensigh constructed the bridge spending Tk 9.74 crore. It was opened to traffic on May 16 last.
Hundreds of vehicles, including those plying Dhaka-Kishoreganj route via Monohardi, use the bridge every day.
During a visit to the site, it was seen that the Monohardi portion of the approach road caved in following incessant rains for the last several days.
The contractor firm placed sand bags along with bamboo poles to somehow repair the collapsed road.
However, locals fear it might collapse again in the case of heavy rains.
Local Awami League leader Lal Mia alleged that the road collapsed due to the use of substandard materials in the construction.
Rezvi Construction Supervisor Nirtan said a road may collapse after its construction. “However, we’ve repaired the road.”
Executive Engineer of Kishoreganj Roads and Highways Rashedul Alam said he was unaware of the collapse of and cracks on the road. “Actions will be taken against the contractor firm if it’s found correct. “
Dhaka, Jul 30 (UNB) – Bangladesh Railway (BR) is going to set up rooftop solar plants in its stations, office buildings, junctions, workshops and staff quarters across the country as part of government’s plan to promote green energy across the country.
Three major stakeholders -- Power Division, Bangladesh Railway, and state-owned financing agency IDCOL (Infrastructure Development Company Limited) -- have agreed in principle to work for the project.
According to official sources, about 100 MW of solar-power generation is initially planned to generate by using the rooftops of the railway establishments across the country with investment from the private sector.
The sources at the Power Division said under the proposed arrangement, the BR will provide its space of approximately over 10 million square feet (sft) of rooftops while private sponsors install plants with financial support from IDCOL. Power Division will buy unconsumed electricity from the plants.
“An initial consensus had been there over the issue in a joint meeting on July 25 at the Railways Ministry where the Power Division made a presentation on the potential of the project,” said Mohammad Alauddin, joint secretary of the Power Division and in-charge of renewable energy, told UNB.
He said German donor agency KfW, the representatives of which attended the meeting, also expressed interest to extend technical and financial support to conduct a feasibility study shortly.
Contacted, Railway Secretary Mofazzal Hossain said Bangladesh Railway has agreed with the idea of generating electricity from solar plants using rooftops.
He said a technical committee was formed at the meeting comprising representatives of the Railways Ministry and Power Division to examine the project viability.
During the meeting, official sources said, six major railway stations and offices, 17 junctions and five workshops of the railway are targeted for the project.
The office is Rail Bhaban, while the stations are Kamalapur, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, and Chittagong and junctions are in Jessore, Pabna, Abdulpur, Paradaho, Ishwardi, Bagerhat, Joydebpur, Syedpur, Bhairab, Burimari, Rohanpur, Tongi, Tangail, Gouripur, Laksham, and their adjacent offices and staff quarters.
The major workshops proposed for the solar plants are Parbatipur, Pahartoli, Ishwardi, Saidpur, and 569 small stations.
Officials said the major stations and offices have huge rooftops of 1.5 million sft while junctions and adjacent facilities have 3.45 million sft rooftop and workshops and small stations have 5.5 million sft rooftops.
Once such rooftop solar power projects are implemented, IDCOL officials said, they will annually generate 91 gig watt hours of electricity saving an amount of Tk 54 crore and they will help save about Tk 1,078 crore in 20 years.
Power Division officials said they have proposed Bangladesh Railway to implement the project under the Net Metering System (NMS) under which the railway will consume its own electricity first and then sell the extra or unconsumed one to the national grid.
In this case, they said, the railway will lease out its rooftops to private sponsors known as ESCO (energy service company) which will install the plants at their own costs with financial support from the IDCOL.
There will be a tripartite agreement among railway, IDCOL and private sponsors while railway will have a bilateral agreement with power distribution companies to sell its unconsumed electricity to the national grid.
Officials said neighbouring India has already implemented a large number of rooftop solar projects using the rooftops of its railway stations and other establishments which have been running very successfully.
Dhaka, July 29 (UNB) - A total of 18,073 people have so far been affected by various water-borne diseases and other natural disasters in the flood-hit areas this year, as floodwater is receding from different parts of the country.
Some 345 unions under 76 upazilas of 28 districts were hit by flood, according to sources at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
In the flood-affected districts, 6,860 people were affected by diarrhoea while 1,961 with respiratory tract infection, 2,405 with skin diseases, 585 with eye infection and 5,676 with other diseases in the last 19 days since July 10, said the sources.
Besides, 532 people suffered injuries in various incidents, including eight in lightning strikes and 60 in snakebites, during the period.
A total of 397 people were affected by diarrhoea in the last 24 hours till 8am on Monday while 121 with respiratory tract infection, 185 with skin diseases, 27 with eye infection and 354 with other diseases.
As many as 119 people died for various reasons in the 18 days. Of them, 98 drowned while 10 died from snakebites and seven from lightning strikes and one died of respiratory tract infection.
The highest 36 deaths were recorded in Jamalpur while 20 in Gaibandha, 19 in Netrakona, 11 in Tangail, eight in Bogura, five in Sunamganj, four each in Lalmonirhat and Kurigram, two each in Nilphamari, Sherpur, Brahmanbaria and Sirajganj, and one died in Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar, Faridpur and Manikganj districts each.
A total of 2,490 medical teams were working in the flood-hit areas under the supervision of the DGHS, said Dr Ayesha Akter, assistant director at the Health Emergency Operation Centre and Control Room of the DGHS.
Some 1,325 shelter centres –- 538 in Cox’s Bazar, 479 in Chattogram, 98 in Rangamati, 88 in Feni, 70 in Gaibandha, 13 in Jamalpur, seven each in Bogura, Kurigram and Tangail, eight in Madaripur, five in Manikganj and Brahmanabaria each, and one centre in Sylhet -- were opened for the flood victims, she said.
Dr Ayesha said the DGHS is working day and night to ease the sufferings of those were affected by various diseases due to flood.
Medicine specialist Dr Harun Or Rashid said people get infected with various water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, skin diseases, dysentery and eye infection, with the receding of water from flood-affected areas. “Besides, a number of people die from snakebite during the flood,” he said, adding that one can get rid of many diseases exercising caution.
He also advised for taking special care of children, elderly people and pregnant women in the affected areas at this moment.
Benapole, July 29 (UNB)- Even Shylock in Shakespeare’s famous play "The Merchant of Venice" would feel shy hearing the story of a village in Bangladesh where creditors have been snatching lands, belongings from poorer debtors.
Shylock had demanded a pound of flesh from Antonio when the latter failed to pay off his debt, but failed to get it in the face of Portia’s logic that he must take it without shedding a single drop of blood.
But there is no stopping the neo-Shylocks of Rajbaria village under Shankarpur union in Jhikargachha upazila of Jashore, who have been forcing their debtors to pay up to Tk 7,000 interest per month against Tk 1 lakh loan exploiting the frailty and needs of the poor villagers.
Meanwhile, failing to pay the huge amount in interest, let alone the capital, hundreds of poor villagers got trapped in the cycle of loan have been forced to sell off their land and other belongings and even to flee the village.
Shawkat, son of Mansur Ali, Rafiqul, son of Lutfar Rahman, Momin, son of Babar Ali, Jahangir, son of Razzak Sardar, Uzzal, son of Rawshan, Sabur Khan, son of Sayed Ali, and Israfil, son of Hazi Noor Islam, are just some of the borrowers who fell victims to the predatory lenders.
Talking to UNB, they relayed they have nothing left now as everything was seized by the cruel money-lenders. In some cases, the money-lenders have sold out their lands after forcibly snatching the papers of lands they had possessed.
Even after losing everything, we have to pay more to these lenders, they added.
A poor woman of Rajbaria village told UNB, “My male relatives left me alone and fled due to constant pressure from money-lenders. I don’t know where my husband, sons and nephews are.”
“We want the administration’s to take steps to save us now,” said a family member who is literally trapped in the cycle of high interest rate by local money-lenders.
During a visit to Chhotto Bazar, this correspondent found Jinnah, son of Abdul Gafur of Rajbaria village who works for money-lenders.
When asked about the source of money, Jinnah said he works for two brothers --Kamal Hossain and Anwar Hossain, sons of Hazi Amir Hossain of Rajbaria village.
Jinnah said he works as an interest collector on behalf of Kamal and Anwar.
This correspondent lastly found main money-lender Anwar Hossain and tried to talk to him. But after knowing the identity of this journalist, he burst out in anger.
Anwar threatened this correspondent and finished the meeting by saying, “I’ll see you later.”
Later, he also threatened the family members of borrowers for complaining to a journalist, they informed.
Masuar Rahman, Rajbaria Union Parishad member, said he was astonished to hear about the situation created by money-lenders. “I knew poverty led people to leaving their houses in Rajbaria village but never heard of the money-lenders,” he added.
Sumi Majumder, Jhikargachha Upazila Nirbahi Officer, said, “This is very sad to hear this. I think the cruel money-lenders should be punished.”
The administration will take legal action once the victims file complaints, she added.